Gospel Relevance

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15 Books That Have Formed Me As A Christian

A friend recently asked me what has been the best book I’ve ever read. Someone asked a similar question to Kevin DeYoung, which got me thinking about some formative books for me. While I can’t say I have one absolute favorite (there’s just too many!), there’s been some books that have been particularly helpful for me in my Christian growth.

15 books that have formed me

What are they?

You can find all 15 below, but first — a few caveat’s:

1) I know I’m relatively young, and haven’t read thousands and thousands of books. But I read a few a month, and have for years. And I’d recommend any of the books listed below to any Christian in a heart beat.

2) I haven’t read every word of a few of the books mentioned (like Calvin’s Institutes, for example). But you don’t need to read an entire book to experience change. Sometimes, a simple chapter will do.

3) The books are not in any specific order.

15 Books That Have Formed Me As A Christian

Outside of the Bible, of course, here’s 15 books that have formed me the most as a Christian:

C.J. Mahaney, Humility

I’m glad I read this book in my early twenties. Few books are better to give to a young Christian.


Paul Miller, A Praying Life

This is the best book on prayer I’ve ever read. I still use Miller’s techniques of prayer and organizing prayer to this day, several years later.


Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology

Lots of my theologian friends prefer Louis Berkhof, but I’m putting my Systematic money on Grudem. This volume is a treasure and every page is a delight. I want to read and re-read it several more times.


Arnold Dallimore, Spurgeon

Who has God used more than Charles Spurgeon? That list of names is small. There’s nothing like reading a good biography, and there hasn’t been many spiritual giants quite like Charles Spurgeon. My faith, love for Christ, and desire to be used by God rose when I read this book.


The Autobiography Of George Muller

I once heard Paul Washer say that this book has been the most impactful book he’s ever read. I now see why. The faith and prayer life of Muller is simply staggering, one that encouraged me greatly.


A.W. Pink, The Attributes of God

The more I learn about someone I love, the more I love them. Yet, all humans are sinful. But God is not. And the more I dive into God’s perfections, the more I leave with greater adoration for him. I love studying God’s attributes. That’s why I love this book.


A.W. Pink, The Sovereignty of God

Is there anything that brings more joy than knowing that God is sovereign over all? I think not. This book helped me understand that truth in greater depth.


Tim Keller, Counterfeit Gods

I’ve read several Tim Keller books and this is one of my favorites. Keller helped me find my idols, and replace them with the gospel (an on-going process).


R.C. Sproul, The Holiness of God

This book is necessary, but not safe. Be careful: it may have you trembling in the presence of God.


John Piper, Desiring God

Talk to an unbeliever and ask them what they think about Christianity. They’ll probably tell you that they think Christianity is a kill-joy religion. But that’s not true. No one has taught me more about joy in the Christian life than John Piper, and it’s mostly because of this book.


J.I. Packer, Knowing God

When a book on theology sells over a million copies, I tend to pay attention. This books helped me see the “bigness” and majesty of God.


Randy Alcorn, Managing God’s Money

Alcorn helped me see that God owns everything — not just money — and that joy always follows proper stewardship.


John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life

I read this book my junior year in undergraduate school. It created a sense of urgency within my soul to steward my life well.


R.C. Sproul, The Invisible Hand

One of my favorite theologians on my favorite doctrines (Providence). This is probably one of Sproul’s most underrated books.


John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion

Might be the best book of all-time (outside of the Bible). Still need to finish reading the whole thing, but I’ve read enough. It’s better than gold.


You may also like:

  1. 8 Quick Tips to Help You Read More Books
  2. 11 Books Every Christian in College Should Read
  3. 35 Random Tips and Thoughts on The Reading of Books
  4. The Christian Reader’s Resource Guide: 49 Links to Help You Find the Best Books

About David Qaoud

David Qaoud (MDiv, Covenant Theological Seminary) is associate pastor of Bethesda Evangelical Church in St. Louis, Missouri, and founder of gospelrelevance.com. His work has appeared on The Gospel Coalition, For the Church, and Banner of Truth. He lives in St. Louis with his wife and son. Learn more.

15 Replies

  1. Bondage of the Will, Luther, Chosen by God, Sproul; The Death of Death in the Death of Christ [with an introduction by J. I. Packer], Owen; The King in His Beauty, Schreiner; Grace Alone, Ferguson; The Sovereignty of Grace, Custance; Ichthus, Ferguson & Thomas; For Us and Our Salvation, Nichols;

    1. Great list! I haven’t read A Peculiar Glory by John Piper, but want to. Also love how you incorporate Luther and some of the old guys. 🙂

  2. Mia Brown

    As an avid reader, I definitely find many of the books on this list to be some of my top 15 as well! [Sovereignty of God, Attributes of God, Holiness of God, and Institutes of Christian Religion are some that I ALWAYS recommend!] Several that you listed I haven’t read yet, but are on my list. I’m super interested in reading all the books that you’ve recommended. Thanks for the suggestions and your contribution to the needs of the Saints! Grace and peace to you, in our Lord Jesus Christ!

    1. Hi Mia, Awesome that you’ve read and would also recommend some of the same books. My pleasure on the suggestions. Hope you get a chance to read the rest.

  3. B A Blumenthal

    While I appreciate the list, I think God has brought the books I need into my life as I needed them as part of my growth process. I also note that I’ve been handed or sent books that were not for me (Jesus Calling, Purpose Driven Life, etc) that I began, but put down since they didn’t seem correct. I would not give steak to a toddler. As I’ve grown in depth and maturity, the books have become more meaty! Pink was prolific and I’ve been reading his books for several years now..

  4. chris ellis

    Hi David, read some, want to read others. Love your comments. They really make me want to read the ones I haven’t! Best book I had read in a long time was by Cornelius Tyree, “the Living Epistle.” Written by in the 1800’s.

    1. Haven’t heard of “The Livinig Espistle,” but I’ll have to check that out! Also, I know you like the works of dead theologians, so maybe Pink’s books will strike a cord with you. I would like to personally spend more time reading guys like Calvin, Edwards, Augustine, etc. It’s good for the soul.

      1. Chris Ellis

        You can get Tyree’s book through Backus Books. Yes to Pink. When I read his book, The Sovereignty of God, about 30 yrs ago, I almost think I got saved then! I was Arminian before that. I am currently teaching through the attributes of God by Pink in my Adult S.S. Class. In short, too many books, not enough time!

        1. Gave me chills when you spoke about Pink’s book. Love it. And you’re right: so many books, not enough time. O, the agony! Haha 🙂

  5. CJ Alexander

    Pilgrim’s Progress

  6. bob

    Extremely reformed list. Looks like your book choices are kinda bias. Fresh Wind Fresh Fire by Cymbala and The Cross and the Switchblade should be in any young Christian’s top 10 list.